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UPDATED 1.21.13 Help With Deciding on Math for Next Year


PachiSusan
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I am fully enrolled in a box curriculum that gives me all my lesson plans and choices. This next year, in 5th grade, the options are Saxon 6/5 or MCP Mathematics Level E. I am somewhat ticked about this because we have done Seton Press Math for the past 5 years and they do not have any math books written for 5th grade or above. They switch you to Saxon or MCP for fifth grade. Then, in 6th you have to go to Saxon. I have looked through the Saxon book and I don't particularly like how it's set up and my daughter FREAKED when she saw it. She said, "Mom, this looks like a college textbook!!!!!!" I browsed MCP and it seems below level.

 

Can someone help me decide if I should just deal and switch to Saxon since I will have to anyway in the following year, or are there benefits to MCP Math for my daughter who is very bright, but not really strong in Math. She doesn't know her math facts by heart and she HATES drilling.

 

Any real life information would be very helpful to me as I know NOTHING about MCP Math. I have heard great things about Saxon and I know it must be a good program, but I need to know more about MCP math before I dismiss it or choose it. Thank you!

 

Thank you, Susan

 

Update: I just got this answer from the counselors:

We recommend the switch to Saxon in the 5th grade. The Seton Press books were designed with a switch to Saxon 5/4 in mind. That being said, in a side-by-side comparison, the Seton Press Math is a little more similar to MCP.

 

One of the reasons we suggest using Saxon though (aside from the fact that it is the series used at higher grade levels and so getting accustomed to it can be helpful) is that there are considerably more resources available for Saxon including the DIVE or Saxon Teacher DVD companions--just in case the extra aids are useful as the material gets more difficult.

 

So....in discussing it with the DH, we are pretty set on giving Saxon a try. I'll update in another post as to what helped sway us one way or the other.

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Are you able to use a different math outside of this boxed curriculum? CLE might be a good choice for your DD, as it is a set of 10 thin workbooks.

 

If you HAVE to use one of those choices, I'd go with Saxon to get her used to it now, since you'd be doing it the following year anyway (unless you're thinking about breaking out of the box).

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I am fully enrolled in a box curriculum that gives me all my lesson plans and choices. This next year, in 5th grade, the options are Saxon 6/5 or MCP Mathematics Level E. I am somewhat ticked about this because we have done Seton Press Math for the past 5 years and they do not have any math books written for 5th grade or above. They switch you to Saxon or MCP for fifth grade. Then, in 6th you have to go to Saxon. I have looked through the Saxon book and I don't particularly like how it's set up and my daughter FREAKED when she saw it. She said, "Mom, this looks like a college textbook!!!!!!" I browsed MCP and it seems below level.

 

Can someone help me decide if I should just deal and switch to Saxon since I will have to anyway in the following year, or are there benefits to MCP Math for my daughter who is very bright, but not really strong in Math. She doesn't know her math facts by heart and she HATES drilling.

 

Any real life information would be very helpful to me as I know NOTHING about MCP Math. I have heard great things about Saxon and I know it must be a good program, but I need to know more about MCP math before I dismiss it or choose it. Thank you!

 

Thank you, Susan

 

Ok, I'm not sure what you mean by being "enrolled" in a "box curriculum." I'm assuming you enrolled your dc in a distance-learning school of some kind that requires you to use certain instructional materials, yes? Oh, wait...you enrolled your dc in Seton. I see.

 

I'd say go with Saxon, since it does go through calculus (just in case y'all want to go that far in math). I'm sure she'll do just fine with Saxon; it only looks scarey compared to what she's doing now. :-)

 

Does Seton not have its students do the Saxon placement test? That would be of more concern to me than the fact that your dd is freaked out by how Saxon looks.

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I don't know anything about enrolling in certain curricula. But we have been using Saxon 5/4 this year for the first time and we really like it. If 6/5 is anything like 5/4, and I had those two options, I would pick Saxon. It's really not anywhere close to a "college textbook." If she has trouble with math facts though, I agree with Ellie, she ought to take a placement test.

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We can only choose from Saxon or MCP MATH. Those are my choices. Before this, they had Seton Press Math that was written by the school itself but they have not finished writing the older grades yet.

 

Do you know anything about MCP? I don't really know many people who have used it so I don't feel I can make an informed decision yet.

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On I know it is not a college textbook. The comment had more to do with how small the print was, how much information was on each page, and no pictures. It screamed "too grown up for me!!!!!" at a time when she felt totally overwhelmed with the jump on what was expected of her in fourth grade.

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I think if she *has* to do Saxon the following year, I'd definitely let her get used to it now. If you feel MCP is slightly behind, it seems like it would only hinder her to switch to MCP next year and then have to make another curriculum adjustment the following year. I'd let her ease into it. Maybe have her take the test again this summer to confirm her level and boost her (and your) confidence. Do you have the ability to select which level she does? ie Do they allow you to pick the right 'track' for her within Saxon? I know some kids work 5/4 in 4th but some work it in 5th too - would it be an option for her to work that book if it turns out she still struggles with the placement test over the summer?

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MCP is very very mastery-based.

 

For example, if your dd is going to learn fractions, she will have two chapters on fractions that takes 3 or 4 weeks to complete and mastery is expected by the end if those 3 chapters. Then she would move onto decimals, for example.

 

There is some review but not a ton.

 

Frankly as a teacher I find MCP to be very overwhelming because I look at this ten pAges and I know my kid will not master the concept in that time, and then what?

 

Whereas, with Saxon, they are not expected to master a concept for sometimes up to a half a year! And even then it'll cycle back aroundatervon and in the following levels.

 

Saxon is definitely a big kid math program in its presentation/style/ numbers of problems. But what you can do is break math up I to separate segments, either spreading it in two chunks through the day, or other similar plan.

 

Saxon works really well and it makes sense. I would go with Saxon and just divide each lesson into two parts and be very positive and excited about it.

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MCP is very very mastery-based.

 

For example, if your dd is going to learn fractions, she will have two chapters on fractions that takes 3 or 4 weeks to complete and mastery is expected by the end if those 3 chapters. Then she would move onto decimals, for example.

 

There is some review but not a ton.

 

Frankly as a teacher I find MCP to be very overwhelming because I look at this ten pAges and I know my kid will not master the concept in that time, and then what?

 

Whereas, with Saxon, they are not expected to master a concept for sometimes up to a half a year! And even then it'll cycle back aroundatervon and in the following levels.

 

Saxon is definitely a big kid math program in its presentation/style/ numbers of problems. But what you can do is break math up I to separate segments, either spreading it in two chunks through the day, or other similar plan.

 

Saxon works really well and it makes sense. I would go with Saxon and just divide each lesson into two parts and be very positive and excited about it.

 

 

Thank you for this information as well. I am leaning more towards MCP, but you Saxon ladies are making some good points I must address! :)

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I tend to think of MCP as more supplemental. If your child needed some extra problems in order to master a particular topic, MCP would have a page full of problems covering that particular topic.

 

I don't remember the font being any larger, there being fewer problems per page, or it having any more in the way of pictures than Saxon. Also, even though MCP is a workbook, there really isn't enough room to work out the problems unless your child writes very neat and very small.

 

However, the deciding factor for me would be that I wouldn't want to use 3 different math programs in 3 consecutive years. All programs use a slightly different sequence and I would never suggest program hopping with math. However, in the years when a child is mastering the 4 operations with whole numbers, fractions, and decimals, learning order of operations, and building their math vocabulary for future work in algebra and geometry, the child may well miss things that will cause struggles in high school math.

 

If you must use Saxon the next year, go ahead and switch.

JMHO-

Mandy

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Exactly. It's much better to pick a main math as your spine and then to pick your supplemental materials and then to plan accordingly. Saxon is now our spine and it can be supplemented with Key To books or Hands On Equations or a math focused logic book (We play around with Logic Posters from Scholastic) or the reading lists from Living Math etc.

 

I like to supplement math just to present certain topics in a different format. Or to take breaks from the main book for a focus unit on something for a couple weeks or the summer break. You can also add almost any kind of hands on math manipulative to Saxon (c-rods, RS games, SM place value cards, Montessori Geometrical Multiplication boards and beads, etc)

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I think switching to another program this year and then Saxon next seems like setting yourself up for more struggles. If Saxon is a definitive for next year, I would definitely do Saxon this year, just at the right level.

 

 

This is one of the most persuasive arguments for me to switch to Saxon.

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I tend to think of MCP as more supplemental. If your child needed some extra problems in order to master a particular topic, MCP would have a page full of problems covering that particular topic.

 

I don't remember the font being any larger, there being fewer problems per page, or it having any more in the way of pictures than Saxon. Also, even though MCP is a workbook, there really isn't enough room to work out the problems unless your child writes very neat and very small.

 

However, the deciding factor for me would be that I wouldn't want to use 3 different math programs in 3 consecutive years. All programs use a slightly different sequence and I would never suggest program hopping with math. However, in the years when a child is mastering the 4 operations with whole numbers, fractions, and decimals, learning order of operations, and building their math vocabulary for future work in algebra and geometry, the child may well miss things that will cause struggles in high school math.

 

If you must use Saxon the next year, go ahead and switch.

JMHO-

Mandy

 

Perhaps what I saw didn't show any pictures in the book that were there - but the Saxon book I saw was all writing that I saw and smaller fonts and much more on each page. I just looked at a MCP and it's got color pictures and larger font. That aside - that should not be my deciding factor, and you ladies have helped me see that part of my reticence about Saxon IS just superficial. I know my kid - and she sees small font and no pictures and she shuts off. She'll have to get over that, eh? Eventually she will HAVE to use books with smaller fonts.

 

Where yours and others argument is most persuasive is this:

However, the deciding factor for me would be that I wouldn't want to use 3 different math programs in 3 consecutive years. All programs use a slightly different sequence and I would never suggest program hopping with math. However, in the years when a child is mastering the 4 operations with whole numbers, fractions, and decimals, learning order of operations, and building their math vocabulary for future work in algebra and geometry, the child may well miss things that will cause struggles in high school math.
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I like to start a series with the first book. I don't like jumping in midstream. I'd never choose to jump in AND out of a series, if I had any other options. I see no point in doing just one year of MCP.

 

If she is going to be using Saxon, I'd place her appropriately in Saxon next year. I'd use 54 not 65 if she needs it. 54 is the entry level text, and the perfect place to start for the average 5th grader. 65 is for a gifted 5th grader and will mean having skipped a book. Yes, I know a lot of schools place 5th graders in 65 as a default, but I don't agree with that as a DEFAULT.

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I guess I don't understand Seton completely - you HAVE to use Saxon? You can't sub things out? Because I was thinking along the lines with Boscopup; CLE has really saved math here.

 

You can't sub out if you're fully enrolled in the distance program, no.

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If it matters, back when I first started home schooling, I started with Seton and they didn't have Seton math. And they didn't offer Saxon back then either. It was just MCP. Eventually, they will have all the elementary math as Seton, but it takes time to create and publish new materials. If it helps to know, I think the Seton math very closely follows MCP, so I really think your dd will do better going from Seton to MCP than Seton to Saxon.

 

Now, there is some logic to going ahead and switching her now because if you plan to use Seton for high school, they only offer Saxon. However, they are slightly more flexible in highschool. You could simply not enroll in that subject and do Lials or whatever instead.

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I guess I don't understand Seton completely - you HAVE to use Saxon? You can't sub things out? Because I was thinking along the lines with Boscopup; CLE has really saved math here.

 

You *can* sub things out, but it changes what they do for you. If you want them to keep full transcripts and do all the paperwork necessary to keep legal, then you have to do what they have planned. They correct all the papers and the tests so that there is an independent person looking at things as well. I personally want that, so I'm doing what substitutions I can.

 

You have alternates in Science and Math and some choice in book reports. Since they correct the book reports and papers, they need to have graders who have knowledge of the items in question. They also supply the quizzes and tests.

 

I knew what I was getting into when I signed up for their full curriculum. You can always use just the pieces you want, but you lose all the benefits of grading, tutoring, transcripts, and lesson plans if you do so. I have never run across anything yet that I was willing to lose the above over.

 

And Hello my friend!! :)

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If it matters, back when I first started home schooling, I started with Seton and they didn't have Seton math. And they didn't offer Saxon back then either. It was just MCP. Eventually, they will have all the elementary math as Seton, but it takes time to create and publish new materials. If it helps to know, I think the Seton math very closely follows MCP, so I really think your dd will do better going from Seton to MCP than Seton to Saxon.

 

Now, there is some logic to going ahead and switching her now because if you plan to use Seton for high school, they only offer Saxon. However, they are slightly more flexible in highschool. You could simply not enroll in that subject and do Lials or whatever instead.

 

Thank you for letting me know about this. I had a feeling that Seton Press' Math was very similar to MCP and different from the spiral approach of Saxon. I guess it comes down to when I want to switch her to it and perhaps that is something I have to pray about. She is very rocky in math right now, and changing to something very different than she's used to might be too hard for her now. WIth 2 more years under her belt, will it ensconce her MORE into this way and make Saxon harder, or will a 6th grader be better able to handle the change?

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In my limited experience, it is less about becoming more used to it than it is about them just learning better one way over the other. Saxon and MCP are just very different styles. Some kids adjust just fine and some really struggle with Saxon.

 

If your dd is struggling but doing okay with seton/MCP, then *I* would stick with it until I had no other choice. Worry about that bridge when you get to it. Seton and your dd may have changed a lot in 2 years. :)

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I agree with Mandy in TN. If you have to switch, do it now.

 

Saxon has teacher CDs they produce or there are some other options for CDs. I cannot remember the name of them at the moment, though.

 

Also, MCP is really better as a supplement. It isn't thorough enough, IMO, to be a full main program. There just isn't enough there.

 

I would most certainly put a child with math phobia/struggles and new to Saxon into the lower Saxon text. It will give her a chance to get used to the format and gain confidence. For the math facts, get her a cheat sheet for the 4 processes and do the daily Saxon practice drills. I believe they also have some flashcards, too.

 

 

Thank you for the advice. I am truly listening to it all and will take it to prayer to find what is best. You make a valid point about switching at a lower level possibly being easier.

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In my limited experience, it is less about becoming more used to it than it is about them just learning better one way over the other. Saxon and MCP are just very different styles. Some kids adjust just fine and some really struggle with Saxon.

 

If your dd is struggling but doing okay with seton/MCP, then *I* would stick with it until I had no other choice. Worry about that bridge when you get to it. Seton and your dd may have changed a lot in 2 years. :)

 

 

Martha, that's one thing I'm wondering about. Up until 3rd grade, my daughter didn't struggle one IOTA with Math. She caught on to everything easily and then when multiplication and division came, her mind was blown. Not about the concept, but about the amount of time it takes to memorize and put the ideas together. What drove her completely off the cliff was long division and combining addition with division. Ever since then, she's been reluctant and teary about math if it gets at ALL difficult.

 

It's taken most of the end of 3rd grade and all of 4th grade to get her to a point where she'll not have a face fall when I say it's time for Math. I don't know how she'll handle a completely new way of thinking and teaching Math. Then again - maybe she needs a total change.

 

I think too much, don't I? LOL

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Also, MCP is really better as a supplement. It isn't thorough enough, IMO, to be a full main program. There just isn't enough there.

 

You certainly allowed an opinion. A quick "MCP compared to Saxon" in a google search yeilds some solid comparisons. Most of which state what I and others have already noted. My kids and I started to comment that "spiral math" felt a lot like circling the drain the math. ;p

 

MCP might not be really thick, colorful and complicated, but it is, IMO, a solid, no fuss or distractions or spiraling stuff complete mastery program.

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Martha, that's one thing I'm wondering about. Up until 3rd grade, my daughter didn't struggle one IOTA with Math. She caught on to everything easily and then when multiplication and division came, her mind was blown. Not about the concept, but about the amount of time it takes to memorize and put the ideas together. What drove her completely off the cliff was long division and combining addition with division. Ever since then, she's been reluctant and teary about math if it gets at ALL difficult.

It's taken most of the end of 3rd grade and all of 4th grade to get her to a point where she'll not have a face fall when I say it's time for Math. I don't know how she'll handle a completely new way of thinking and teaching Math. Then again - maybe she needs a total change.

I think too much, don't I? LOL

 

No, you think just like a home schooling mom. ;)

 

Really that is extremely typical of fourth grade long division. And MANY people switch programs hoping it will help. IME it does not. Because every decent program has fourth grade long division.

 

If I were you, I'd play a quick game with her. How fast can she go through a full multiplication flashcards deck? Less than 5 minutes? If not, I'd make it a contest to get that fast. Then work it down to 3 minutes. Two of my kids needed me to do that with them and once I did, the long division went tremendously faster. Which made it much more bearable to do.

 

The first time I tried Saxon was with my oldest when he hit that wall in fourth grade. We really regreted it. You might not tho. :)

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No, you think just like a home schooling mom. ;)

 

Really that is extremely typical of fourth grade long division. And MANY people switch programs hoping it will help. IME it does not. Because every decent program has fourth grade long division.

 

If I were you, I'd play a quick game with her. How fast can she go through a full multiplication flashcards deck? Less than 5 minutes? If not, I'd make it a contest to get that fast. Then work it down to 3 minutes. Two of my kids needed me to do that with them and once I did, the long division went tremendously faster. Which made it much more bearable to do.

 

The first time I tried Saxon was with my oldest when he hit that wall in fourth grade. We really regreted it. You might not tho. :)

 

 

Try about 15 minutes to get through the deck. She doesn't know the higher ones at all. :( She can memorize songs in one hearing, but when she doesn't want to ? EH. I have to find her currency.

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Susan, (welcome, BTW!) what about xtramath for some drill? You can customize the program and give her just multiplication or just division - it's really helped Sylvia become more fluent in her facts. It's been great for Rebecca too - she's on short division.

 

As far as the math, Saxon was a fail here too. I'd probably stick with Saxon because you'll end up there anyway. Maybe drop back like we were talking about on FB?

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Try about 15 minutes to get through the deck. She doesn't know the higher ones at all. :( She can memorize songs in one hearing, but when she doesn't want to ? EH. I have to find her currency.

 

There's the root of the problem then. I'd do whatever to bring her up to speed on them. For us flashcards, an egg timer, lots of enthusiasm cheerleading from mom, and cookies afterward did the trick. Well that and flashcards twice a day for 5 minutes was the only math they had for a week. That went over really well. ;)

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Susan, (welcome, BTW!) what about xtramath for some drill? You can customize the program and give her just multiplication or just division - it's really helped Sylvia become more fluent in her facts. It's been great for Rebecca too - she's on short division.

 

As far as the math, Saxon was a fail here too. I'd probably stick with Saxon because you'll end up there anyway. Maybe drop back like we were talking about on FB?

 

 

Refresh my memory about xtramath? I bought a Math Facts CD and she learned how to use the program to tell her the answer. UGH. I know she needs to do some drilling and do it on her own so she has some ownership of her learning.

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There's the root of the problem then. I'd do whatever to bring her up to speed on them. For us flashcards, an egg timer, lots of enthusiasm cheerleading from mom, and cookies afterward did the trick. Well that and flashcards twice a day for 5 minutes was the only math they had for a week. That went over really well. ;)

 

 

Yep - I have flash cards and drill sheets for the math facts up to 12 x 12's!!!

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Thank you everyone, for your sage advice. I'm thrilled at the variety of responses I have gotten from both this thread and my other thread specifically asking about MCP. I am leaning towards two options and am praying about which one to do.

 

1. Switch to a lower version of Saxon (5/4 )next year in 5th grade and get her used to the new style and spiral method of learning Math since she will have to be using Saxon by 7th grade regardless.

 

2. Keep her in the same type of teaching (traditional/classical Math) and go with MCP Mathematics and switch her in 7th grade to Saxon. I will get a Saxon book and start getting her used to copying problems out of a book instead of workbook form.

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Sounds like a good plan.

 

I haven't read all of the replies, but you could also supplement with Life of Fred. My kids will work through anything if they know they get to LOF at the end of it! :D

 

I don't "get" Life of Fred. How does reading stories teach math? I'm woefully ignorant about it.

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I think xtramath would be great to build confidence and speed in her multiplication facts. It is a very simple, free computer based program. You just go here and sign up. Your child takes a placement test to start. Then each day, your child can easily log in, do there 10-15 drill, and log out. You can log in at anytime and see exactly what kind of progress they are making, what facts they know down cold, what ones they know pretty well, and where they are struggling. You also get weekly emailed progress reports. You can always try it and see if it click with your daugher. It's free so you don't lose anything!

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I think xtramath would be great to build confidence and speed in her multiplication facts. It is a very simple, free computer based program. You just go hereand sign up. Your child takes a placement test to start. Then each day, your child can easily log in, do there 10-15 drill, and log out. You can log in at anytime and see exactly what kind of progress they are making, what facts they know down cold, what ones they know pretty well, and where they are struggling. You also get weekly emailed progress reports. You can always try it and see if it click with your daugher. It's free so you don't lose anything!

 

Thank you! I just registered her and will start with it tomorrow after Math.

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I've found that if a student gets overwhelmed at xtramath, I need to provide copywork of tables, and teach strategies, before putting them back on. I don't TEACH with xtramath; I use it for testing and review.

 

Yes, we would only be using it for drilling. No more than 15 minutes. We were supposed to start it tonight but school went a bit long.

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Update: I just got this answer from the counselors:

We recommend the switch to Saxon in the 5th grade. The Seton Press books were designed with a switch to Saxon 5/4 in mind. That being said, in a side-by-side comparison, the Seton Press Math is a little more similar to MCP.

 

One of the reasons we suggest using Saxon though (aside from the fact that it is the series used at higher grade levels and so getting accustomed to it can be helpful) is that there are considerably more resources available for Saxon including the DIVE or Saxon Teacher DVD companions--just in case the extra aids are useful as the material gets more difficult.

 

So....in discussing it with the DH, we are pretty set on giving Saxon a try. There were so many reasons for either choice and honestly, I have to confess was that some of the reason was that I plain didn't like how Saxon looked. <chagrined sigh>.

 

The strongest argument for Saxon was simple: If she was going to switch to it in 6th grade, why not get her into it and used to it before the difficulties of 6th grade come in too?

 

Finally, I realized that I just didn't want her to adjust any more than she had to, but it will come anyway, so why not earlier than later?

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